Frozen bubble photography in your own backyard

During the summer, Craig Hilts chases storms and aurora, but when it’s too cold outside to do either, he takes pictures of bubbles.

Photographer Craig Hilts shares his tips for getting the perfect shot

Craig Hilts says the rosebush bubble was a challenge for him: 'I was looking for something unique to make it look different.' (Craig Hilts)

This story was originally published on Dec 29, 2017.

During the summer, Craig Hilts chases storms and aurora, but when it's too cold outside to do either, he takes pictures of bubbles.

Hilts runs Prairie Fire Photography in Swift Current, Sask., and his photo of a frozen bubble on a rose bush inspired CBC's The Afternoon Edition to ask how to mimic his results.

The first time Hilts tried this experiment, he found himself looking for bubble mixture in the middle of winter. 'People thought we were nuts; it’s minus 35 and we’re looking for bubble mixture.' (Craig Hilts)

Hilts said he started photographing frozen bubbles about five or six years ago. 

He always uses regular bubble mixture you'd find in any store — nothing special — and while he uses a macro lens for his shots, you can still get cool images (pun intended) with a standard camera.

Hilts says take photos of bubbles is a fun thing to do outdoors when the weather is cold. 'It doesn’t take a lot of time and it’s really something to enjoy.' (Craig Hilts)

He encourages anyone to go out and give it a shot themselves.

"It's really easy. Anyone can do it; grab the bubbles, bundle up really nice and warm, and go out in the backyard. Find a place with not a lot of wind, and give it a try."

One of things Hilts likes about photographing bubbles is watching them freeze. “It’s really amazing to see.” (Craig Hilts)

The photographs look great, but Hilts said the process of watching the bubble freeze looks pretty neat, too.

"You can actually see them freezing and crystallizing in real time, and it seems like a sped-up movie as the crystals form and wrap around the bubble and it goes from being this clear orb to a little crystal ball, basically."

His top tip for taking photos in the winter?

"Bundle up and have some hot chocolate waiting for you when you're done to warm yourself back up after doing it."

'Winter provides some really unique opportunities,' Hilts said. (Craig Hilts)

If you'd like to see more of Hilts's work, you can follow Prairie Fire Photography on Facebook, or pick up a copy of his coffee table book of photos called Living Skies.


Ashleigh Mattern is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon and CBC Saskatchewan.

With files from The Afternoon Edition